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First make sure you have read chapter 11 (“Archaic Humans”) of the Explorations textbook, especially the boxed discussion “Special Topic: Ancient DNA” near the end of the chapter. Once you have done that, watch and listen to Pääbo’s lecture above. He will review the important paleogenomic discoveries. As he goes through his research timeline, you will understand why the information in the “Becoming Human” documentary is so wrong given what we now know. Although the lecture is intended for a general audience, some things he discusses will be challenging for you. This is why it is good to read the textbook chapter first. Don’t worry if you don’t understand everything in the lecture, just keep listening and he will cover the essential findings.
After you have completed you will write a 500 word update on the what the genetics research on the Neanderthals and Denisovans now shows us about those species and about our own. In your response, you should answer the following series of questions:
- Who are the Neanderthals and the Denisovans?
- What does the “Last Human Standing ” documentary say about the paleogenetic research on Neanderthals and Denisovans? Why did the documentary get it wrong? What has happened since the documentary aired?
- What does ancient DNA (aDNA) teach us about each of these species? Which human populations are they connected to?
- What can their genomes tell us about their population structures?
- What does this research show us about our own evolutionary trajectory as modern humans?
As always, you are welcome to exceed the length requirement (your response should simply be more than 500 words long). When you are finished, place a word count at the bottom of your assignment that looks like this: